If you want to learn how to be happier and healthier, here’s the doctor’s prescription: 1 hug, 8 times a day, more if necessary. Forget about eating an apple a day! Hugging will do the trick to living a much more fulfilling life and building better relationships.
According to neuroeconomist Paul Zak, also known as “Dr. Love” all you need is at least 8 hugs every day to ensure that you are physically and emotionally healthy. This is because of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that’s released by physical touch that increases your happiness due to the endorphins and neurotransmitters produced in your brain.
Several studies have been investigating the positive effects of hugging, cuddling and touching only to find out that these acts are an essential part to human development. If you don’t believe me, check out these 10 reasons why you need your 8 hugs per day:
1. It nurtures relationships
Hugging automatically increases compassion and trust. Once the oxytocin hormone is released it lasts about a half an hour and then you begin to feel the need to show empathy thus building a better connection with others. This increases intimacy between you and the other person and strengths your relationship.
Zak explains this in more detail in his ‘moral molecule’ as he calls it. In the video above he talks about what makes humans moral and how this is reflected through the act of affection and touch. Check out the Ted Talk from Paul Zak in which to learn how you can build trustful relationships and communicate effectively with other people.
2. It increases self-confidence
Another great benefit of hugging is that it boosts self-confidence. As a child you learned that you are special and loved through the touch of your parents, and as such, you have come to associate affection with self-worth. The interesting part is that as an adult it can also make you feel sexy and desirable as it increases your libido and sexual desire.
3. It provides another form of communication
“Hugs were invented to let people know you love them without having to say anything”. Sometimes a hug is all you need to make you and the recipient forget about day-to-day worries and just be happy. Without using unnecessary words, hugging can give out the right message to the other person as effectively as words can or even give out feelings that verbal language cannot convey.
4. It makes you feel good
According to neurologist, Shekar Raman, “a hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy”.
The truth is that hugging can make you a lot happier as it fights feelings of loneliness. A study showed that elderly people who were hugged three or more times a day had more energy, had the ability to concentrate better and enjoyed a more restful sleep than others who didn’t get any.
5. It regenerates your muscles faster
Did you know that receiving and giving hugs can stimulate and relax your muscles? It has the ability to take away pain by increasing the circulation into the soft tissues. An experiment performed on mice showed that hugging can help you build you muscles a lot faster with the help of oxytocin. When scientists injected this hormone to older mice their muscles matched the regeneration rate of younger mice.
6. It minimises fears
How many times as a child you have you felt you needed a hug to get rid of the terror your last nightmare gave you? Hugging has the power to make you feel more secure and protected. Essentially, it gives you the sensation that you are not alone and there is always someone out there you can count on. Another study showed that human touch can actually reduce the anxiety that’s connected with fear and death when touching or hugging an object like a teddy bear.
7. It can help you become a mindful person
Through the hugging meditation, you can learn how to live in the moment and enjoy each day. It can help you build awareness and make you better at identifying other people’s needs equipping you therefore with the power to brighten not only yours but also other people’s lives.
8. It relieves anxiety
This ‘hug therapy’ is super refreshing and invigorating and has the same effects as a good stress reliever. In fact, this act of touch lowers the levels of stress hormones and directly influences your nervous system by sending positive messages to your whole body. A full-body hug for example can help you reduce tension despite the fact that it lasts less than 10 seconds.
9. It prevents diseases
Hugging is a free natural remedy against many types of illnesses. Not only does it prevent disease through strengthening your immune system, but it also has the ability to cure depression and other serious mental problems. Essentially, a hug can:
- Lower the risk of heart disease.
- Fight infections.
- Fight tiredness.
10. It shows appreciation
By hugging someone, you are letting them know that they are precious to you and this makes them feel happier. This is a promise that although you have been wrong and had made mistakes, you are there for them, you care about them and you want them to be safe. The same happens the other way around, so when you receive a hug you know that people appreciate the fact you are part of their lives.
If you want to be happier and healthier, you need to make sure that you add those 8 hugs to your daily routine. Apparently, it does work and is enjoyable, easy and free!
Why not improve your hugging skills with your loved ones today? Check out this inspiring video that shows people from Belgium giving away free hugs in celebration of the National Hugging Day, 21st of January: